New Zealand singing sensation Hayley Westenra has been named one of the 10 outstanding young people in the world in the prestigious annual awards by Junior Chamber International (Jaycees).

The 19-year-old from Christchurch, who has topped the UK classical music charts and also serves as a Unicef ambassador, is the first New Zealander ever to be named in the top ten. She was recognised for her cultural achievement.

Hayley was selected from a pool of 150 nominees from 42 countries.

Her album Pure has sold millions of copies and she has performed with the world's greatest classical performers at the world's most prestigious venues.

Her achievement was announced while she was back in her hometown of Christchurch today.

Hayley said although she didn't set out to win awards, it was a huge honour to be "flying the New Zealand flag".

"With my singing I'm always aware that young people are looking up to me. Along the way I'm trying to make the world a better place by doing my bit."

Hayley is spending nine days at home with her family before returning to London where she is based. She is recording a new album in November, but is due back in New Zealand for Christmas.